Saturday, May 21, 2011

Shanna The She-Devil and Sexism

    Shanna The She-Devil is part of the Marvel collection of comics.  The first part of the story begins with her being part of a science experiment and soldiers come across this floating naked woman in a glass tank in a laboratory with the scientists missing.  She wakes up and has to be saved by the soldiers.  Then the soldiers eventually discover the scientists with their faces and internal organs ripped to shreds.  The evil character that appears is a raptor and right when it's about to kill them, Shanna appears and snaps its neck and saves the day.
    The whole idea for this comic was due to the lack of women reading comics.  Most of the comic books heros or main characters were men and the female would be a secondary character.  The Marvel writer and editor Roy Thomas took on a second write Carole Seuling to come up with a character that would get female attention and that would show a strong woman being the star of the show and that's when she came up with Shanna.  I understand why they would go about this way to portray a strong woman in a comic book therefor a character that women would get interested in and look up to.
    The problems that I have with this powerful female character is because she's a printed patriarchal idea of women in power.  Carole stated that she was given exact instructions by the men of Marvel on how to create this character and because it was a woman who stamped their name on it doesn't mean the ideas came from the woman's mind.  She only did what she was told and when that happens, everything that gets put out is edited by men picking and choosing what they want for this female character without really getting the female perspective or a feminist perspective.
   A feminist looking at this would say that this is a clear picture of political patriarchy and it doesn't show womanhood in its natural state of what beauty really is.  Instead they started the story of this woman being completely nude and drew her as a big breasted bombshell who doesn't know proper english and is animal like.  Then when she does put on clothing, it's less than what you would wear to the beach.  A string bikini with her breasts hanging out is pretty ideal for male readers, but will only feed into the ideal beauty and the pressures against women and ideology about what is real beauty.  It's this unreachable pedestal that pushes women further into giving into mass media portrayals of women.  This comic book didn't make a great achievement of fading away from that, it only added to the list of more pressures for women while still keeping women interested enough because of the fact that it is a main female character despite her intelligence or appearance.

1 comment:

  1. But here is a response that a conventional masculine comic book geek might offer: is not Shanna a kind of female version of Superman? Why shouldn't women respond to Shanna in the same way that men respond to Superman?